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Design & Access Statements

In his essay “Let’s be real about good design” Philip Kassanis welcomed the advent of the Design and Access Statement (DAS) – some years ago now – because it provides a statutory vehicle to explain the design of a scheme. He also argued that design solutions should be accompanied by a rationale so that stakeholders in the design can engage in a meaningful way and not be left liking or disliking the design but not knowing why. The DAS is ideal for this and early versions of the DAS should be produced concurrently with the emerging design empowering stakeholders to participate.

As well as his own, he has been commissioned by others to produce DASs for their schemes. His aim is always to keep it simple and if possible follow a seven point rationale based on decreasing spatial scale. So possibly starting with an argument to do with the scheme’s regional significance moving onto its relation to the landform, followed by its local connections and so forth down to the why building materials and building details are shaped the way they are. Several are shown here.

The approach has to vary with the commission. Thus the decreasing spatial scale formula could not apply in his most recent project: designing inclusive access for a community building.

The presentation of the DAS is important and the aim is to create powerful explanatory graphics and minimise large tracts of text. The work of CEBRA is admired in this respect – this being a typical example. This contrasts with the sad circumstances of many schemes where planners are presented with volumes of information much of which is just descriptive and all too little explanatory. This usually produced as a box ticking necessaity after the design is complete rather than the empowering tool is should be as noted above.

Eureka Place was one of Philip Kassanis’s first DAS’s. Set out in 8 A4 pages it received fulsome praise from the planning authority for being simple clear and effective making a welcome relief from the usual tomes of unnecessary information it was accustomed to receiving.

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